PASS THE POPCORN: Movies Are Back!

Apr 05

Tell the truth: How many movies did you go to last year?

Not so fast! NETFLIX doesn’t count, or Turner Classic Movies, although Ted deserves sainthood for this channel, or even Pay For View. I said, “go to.” As in: venture forth into the actual world, buy a ticket, and sit in a theatre with other live, more or less human, beings.

transformer2The national average for theatre-going is about 8 times a year. But this figure is very skewed by 12-year old boys who go many times to the same mindless piece of crap made just for them featuring blood, guts deafening noise, aliens. and robots. I think that Transformers2 was one of these, but I didn’t see it. . .

Let’s face it: they haven’t been making a lot of adult movies lately. Let me rephrase that: I meant movies for grownups. Of course, if XXX floats your boat, go float yourself. But other than devotees of Teenage Cheerleader Nurses In Heat, few adults actually go to the movies.

Why has this simple fact been so difficult for Hollywood to grasp? Maybe it’s the cocaine. Whatever. There IS some good news:

“Graying Audiences Returns to Movies, in Glasses That Aren’t 3-D” says the Gray Lady herself, The New York Times, reporting that older audiences are returning to theaters because moves are being made for them again. Translate “older” as anyone past adolescence.

BlackSwanI used to go to the movies a lot: when I was freelancing and lived within a few blocks of 10 theatres, 3 or 4 times a week. But up until recently I hadn’t gone for ages, and only took the plunge for The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network and The King’s Speech. All good! I’ve heard that I should see The Black Swan on the big screen, too.

WoodyAllenMostly though, I watch classic films at home, from Annie Hall to Zelig, including, in alphabetical order, Bananas, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Front, Hannah and Her Sisters. Take the Money And Run, Bananas, and Sleeper. And not just Woody Allen films, although the guy’s a genius.

FavoriteYearThis year, I rediscovered My Favorite Year (Ya gotta see this film!), revisited prized films like Nashville, Amadeus, and yes, I admit it, The Big Lebowski, borrowed other people’s favorites like Bullitt and Reversal of Fortune, and recorded some great ones on TCM like the dark comedy Requiem For A Dream and Picnic At Hanging Rock —not a western, by the way, but an eerie story set in Australia in 1900 on a hot summer day. I even (gasp!) paid for Toy Story2 at Movies on Demand, a movie you’d think was just for kids but was just right for this grownup.

I still see more than my share of movies —just not in theatres.  But all that may be about to change. . .

Here’s a letter to the Times that pretty much sums it up:

“I have stayed away from theaters assiduously in recent decades (“Assiduously?” Nice use of the word. “In decades?” Wow! A real holdout!) but this year, I’ve seen several movies . . . because there are more literate scripts, fewer severed limbs and gobs of blood flying around the room (I really hate flying limbs),. more dramatic and beautiful cinematography and more stories (stories!) that make psychological and narrative sense” (What a concept!)

The writer also points out that she doesn’t need cocktails served at her seat, a tactic being tried at selected theaters —although probably not at one near you — to entice the over-12 crowd back to the movies. This woman doesn’t want a Bloody Mary, just movies that aren’t so bloody. That have a plot. And make sense.

Oh, and another thing: Do we HAVE to watch all those damned commercials? I DVR almost everything these days and can breeze through spots for Shamwow, and stop for the E-Trade Baby when I want. But in the theatre I’m trapped and must watch them all. I can’t get there late, because then I won’t get a good seat and I am, after all, vertically challenged and need to be on the aisle.

And finally: Is there any way to stop people in movie theatres from doing totally annoying things like:

XComic*Opening candy wrappers at the worst possible times.
There’s an art to this, folks: Wait til the music/noise level is high, then quickly — quickly! — open the package. Very few people seem to know this.

*Eating huge quantities of food. Can you stop feeding your face for 2 hours? Or limit it to popcorn or M&Ms. Do you really need tacos, hot dogs, pizza or chicken fingers?

Talking throughout the movie, especially when stating the obvious: “Sure is raining!” “It’s catching fire!” “She’s going to kill him” (Yes, she is, if he doesn’t shut up.)

So all we need to get us back to the movie theatres are:
Better Movies
No more commercials
A audience slightly more civilized than the cast of Jersey Shore.


A cartoon feature wouldn’t hurt, either.



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